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Wednesday, 03. November 2021

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Pushing digitalisation in transport logistics - with State support

Digitalisation was also one of the defining core topics in the truck transport logistics industry in the past quarters. And this is not least due to the fact that the consequences of the Corona pandemic have revealed serious effects on the functioning of the supply chain and have thus further reinforced the already existing “home-made” failures. In view of these recent developments, it is not surprising that, according to recent surveys, almost 90% of all logistics decision-makers see great opportunities for their company in the digitalisation of business processes.[1]

But innovations also always require prior investment. Regardless of whether it is investments in the vehicle fleet, in hardware or in software – the acquisition of technology is always associated with costs. High-quality hardware and innovative software solutions, which nowadays already operate with artificial intelligence methods, have their justified price, as they increase efficiency in the company, improve customer service and customer communication, reduce expenses and thus sustainably lower costs. However, transport companies and shippers can “recoup” part of the necessary acquisition costs through subsidy programmes, such as the de minimis subsidy for which the Federal Office for Goods Transport is responsible.

De-minimis: State aid since 2009

The de minimis support programme for road haulage was created in the course of the repatriation of truck toll revenues. Therefore, only those companies are eligible for subsidies that

  • carry out road haulage within the meaning of § 1 GüKG
  • are the owner or operator of at least one heavy goods vehicle (motor vehicle with a total permissible mass of at least 7.5 t used exclusively for road haulage).
Quelle: iStock (welcomia)

The amount of funding per company is capped at a maximum of € 33,000 per annual funding period; it is calculated, among other things, according to the number of trucks that are “optimised” by the measures. As a maximum of € 2,000 is granted per vehicle, the de minimis funding is particularly attractive for companies with small fleets, as it can be attributed greater economic significance. But de minimis is also an interesting instrument for the partial financing of technological innovations for transport companies and consignors with larger vehicle fleets.

Within the framework of the de minimis support programme, companies in the road haulage sector with heavy commercial vehicles are supported if they implement measures to promote safety and the environment. These measures can be divided into three sub-areas:

  • vehicle-related measures
  • personnel-related measures
  • efficiency improvement measures.

According to the definition, all activities for the introduction of innovative technologies that serve the digitalisation of information and processes are assigned to the third sub-area, as these have a direct influence on the efficiency level of the fleet used. And thus positively influence fuel consumption, mileage and emission values.

Eligible measures to increase efficiency

But which measures in particular are eligible? These include in particular the acquisition and introduction of telematics systems. Both the purchase, rental and leasing and maintenance costs are eligible for funding. And this applies to both hardware and software that are required as part of the solution. In addition, communication costs for the operation of telematics systems are also eligible, whereby only the costs of data communication are considered here.

In addition to the purchase of complete telematics systems, other software solutions are also eligible for funding, e.g. solutions that offer the display, evaluation and management of data from digital tachographs. A large proportion of the truck transport management software solutions available on the market include such functionalities. The entry hurdle is thus set very low for most transport companies.

Early application important

The fact that not all applying companies are granted funding is due to the fact that the de minimis funding pots are finite and are distributed according to the first-come-first-served principle. It is therefore important to submit a complete application in good time in order to be considered for the next funding period in 2022.

Further information on the de minimis funding programme can be found on the website of the Federal Office for Goods Transport.

[1] BVL e.V. Supply Chain Management-Studie BVL e.V., 2020